Educational Secrets Revealed at the Michigan College Access Network Conference

April 15, 2011.  Currently, only 36 percent of Michigan residents have some college education.  What will it take to increase that number to 60 percent by 2025?

Hundreds of Michigan educators attending the Michigan College Action Network (MCAN) Annual Conference on April 13, 2011 at the University of Michigan Dearborn Campus examined state-of –the-art techniques for answering that question.  Essay Coaching contributed to a presentation entitled “Partnering with Parents to Support Academic Preparedness in St. Clair County.”

Cathy Busdicker, the St. Clair County RESA parental liaison, said she started the Parents, Kids and College portion of their KnowHow2Go program in 2008 by asking herself, “What did I want to know when my kids were applying to college?” She speaks personally with students, parents, teachers, counselors, educators and principals, tirelessly working to engage them in KnowHow2Go events.

The three-year old program’s reach is seen in the numbers of participants so far:  615 educators, 3433 parents, and 5390 students—a total of 9438 individuals.

Since 2008, Debbie Merion has been invited each year by St. Clair County Educational Director of Education Services Joanne Hopper to present in its Ask an Expert Series.

At the MCAN conference, Debbie spoke about why she finds the event in St. Clair to be so effective:

“The event offers super-sized support, for super-sized anxiety.  College applications are stressful, and writing can be as well.  At the St. Clair event, parents, teachers and educators all gather to support students.  After the presentation on essay writing techniques, students leave the classroom and meet individually and privately with educators to brainstorm essay ideas and share drafts.  At this tender, early stage of college essay writing, students learn how to embrace and describe their personal strengths to interest colleges.”

Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, has said that “the main reason the U.S. now ranks 12th in college completion among 36 developed nations is because from kindergarten to high school, students are not getting a quality education and even if they do make it to college, they lack focus.”

Which brings us back to the college application essay, the passion of Essay Coaching. To find your focus requires self-reflection. How often is self-reflection–a requirement for a strong college essay–taught in our schools?  One student said at an Essay Coaching workshop, “We are taught to write about what we know, not who we are.”    Through writing a college application essay,  students get a glimpse into their strengths, and why they are going to college. They get focused.

And that’s something this country sorely needs.

For additional information about how to attend or present an Ask an Expert event on College Application Essay Writing, please contact Cathy Busdicker at or Debbie Merion at